It’s not enough to know what not to do. We need to know what we are going to do when we’re running low in both the caffeine and patience departments. When we are in the days of going from child to child through the night, waking up early, swimming in mismatched socks and burning breakfast again, it can be hard to remember what we're "supposed" to do! Here are a few ideas you can practice to find out if it works well for your family:

First, stay calm
Keep your voice and your body calm. You are your child's mentor, guide, and most trusted influence. You do not prove that you're in charge by controlling your child, you prove you're in charge by controlling yourself. You may need to use your calm body to help them.

Example: Your child does not want to brush their teeth. Rather than continuing to say "you have to brush your teeth" in a thousand different ways, or making threats to try and convince them to do the thing, it might just take you gently helping them walk into the bathroom. And as you walk, say, "You don't want to brush your teeth right now. It is my job to help your teeth grow healthy and strong so we are going to brush your teeth together, I will help you. (We have more tips for teeth brushing here.)

Second, be compassionate
If you struggle to empathize with your child, try to think about how you feel when someone else exerts their will, authority, or agenda on
you. Chances are, you feel some discomfort. Hold boundaries and limits with compassion and empathy. Try to get to the heart of the issue by being curious about what's happening under the surface. For older children you can ask them, "Hey, I noticed ______________‚ what's up?" For younger children, you can validate their feelings while holding your boundary, "You are very sad it is time to leave the park. I understand, I feel sad when I have to leave my friends too."

Third, be clear
Peacemaker Parenting values teamwork and collaboration, and boundaries are primarily enforced to keep people, animals, and things safe and healthy. Being calm, compassionate, and clear about boundaries is kind, because it establishes a culture of safety and security. Calmly and clearly describe how you are going to help them or hold a boundary: "It is not safe to jump on the couch. I am going to take you outside so you can jump on the trampoline." For older children, you can offer a do-over.

Fourth, be co-regulating
You do not need to "fix" your child's feelings about your boundary. It is okay if they're disappointed, confused, overwhelmed, disoriented, upset, sad, and annoyed. Those are normal human emotions and your child will experience them thousands of times throughout their life. When you are not overwhelmed by your child's feelings, they will learn not to be overwhelmed by their feelings! Rather than shutting down their emotional reaction, be the non-anxious presence that they need. Your calm nervous system quite literally teaches their nervous system how to return to a state of calm (over many years and with lots of practice!).

Lastly, rely on wisdom, not rules when it comes to holding boundaries
As parents it is important for us to recognize when we've drawn a boundary unnecessarily, unreasonably, uncharitably, or without proper perspective. It is okay reconsider and change your mind - this models flexibility, humility, collaboration, and learning from mistakes. This requires wisdom, discernment, attunement to your child's physical, emotional, and sensory needs, self-awareness, and emotional maturity. It is a learning process, and that's okay.



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